Summer 2011 (Vol. X, No. 1) Table of Contents
- Looking Forward, Looking Back
- 2008 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar (CABS) Journal, or Teaching an Old Dog Some New Tricks
- “Rare Book School is like graduate school.”
- DeWayne and Joan White, White Unicorn Books, Dallas, TX
- Terry Gibbs, Gibbs Books, Williamsville, NY
- Meryll Williams of Rainy Day Books (Australia)
- Why I Belong to the IOBA
- BEST OF: The Boot Camp for Book Dealers
- BEST OF: Rare Book School, A Week Among Bright Bookish Minds
- BEST OF: Overlooked and Undervalued, The Bookseller’s Inventory Database
- BEST OF: “What’s this Book Worth?”
- BEST OF: Appraising for Booksellers
- BEST OF: How, when and why to write a press release and what to expect if you do
- Vic Zoschak of Tavistock Books
- BEST OF: Books About Bookselling: Seeing Shelley Plain
Hi, Folks! We are White Unicorn Books. We are DeWayne (De) and Joan White of Dallas, Texas. We married in 1995 but we had know each other all our lives. De brought a mother and 20,000 books into the marriage. I brought a mother, a couple of sisters, five children, many grandchildren, many, many great grandchildren, and several thousand other relatives De had not seen in a long time. My favorite tale is when we sent out our wedding invitations. We used a picture of us when we were 6 years old. One of my granddaughters said “How did they get the picture to look like both of you?” I said “It is us – that is a picture of us when we were 6 years old.” She said “Yes, but how did they get the picture to look like both of you?”
We started our bookstore in November, 2001. Because of 9/11 I took an early retirement and decided to start trying to sell the duplicates in De’s collection of 40 years – with his permission, of course. We had about 20,000 books to start. I thought that would last, like forever. I had no idea how fast you can go through books.
De has a fine collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy. So my first exposure to book history is in the SF&F field and I must say I fell in love with them immediately. The art work is so exciting. No other genre has such exciting art work. I soon learned that the dust jacket or the paperback covers are worth nearly as much as the book. Frank Frazetta, Virgil Finlay, Frank Utpatel, Jeff Jones, Michael Mariano, Stephen Fabian, Darrell Sweet, Paul Bacon and, of course, The Brothers Hildebrandt are but a few of my favorites.
De had once owned a bookstore so everything was so familiar to him. He helped me with the describing of faults. He is a terribly conservative grader. So I tend to be so too – but not quite as much as he is. I tend to over describe all the faults. Like he says – the reader should be able to see the book. They cannot see, touch and feel the book like they could if they were in a book store. So the one thing we do is try to give our customer’s no surprises, except pleasant ones. Most faults sound worse than they really are. Like the time when I first started, in the description I said the text block looked a little dusty. A customer wanted to know what I meant by that and I said “Well, the top page edges looked a little dusty.” He bought the book because of our guarantee and was truly delighted. He was afraid it would look like it was drug through the mud, going by his previous experience with on-line dealers.
We like to think of ourselves as one of the types of used book stores we visited and corresponded with when we were younger. In that day and time, there really was no question about who was responsible for the book(s) after it left the dealer and before it got to the customer. The dealer was – period! Insurance? If the book were really hard to replace, the dealer might insure the book. But the customer? Never. Well, I should never say never. If the customer wanted the book insured, he would generally mention it in the letter – yes, this was before the days of the Internet, but we started young. The dealer and customer might split the cost or the dealer might decide to insure it anyway as a service to the customer.
In the “old” days, sometimes a customer was disappointed in the book after they received it. Again, no questions by the dealer, the dealer took it back and refunded the customers money. If the dealer was at fault, say he had inadvertently mis-described the book, he also paid postage both ways. Otherwise the customer paid postage both ways. In fact, some books were just sent on approval. Now isn’t that a strange concept.
We joined the IOBA pretty darn soon after it started. It is a great organization. We have been committee members for a number of years. We proudly display the IOBA logo on our site and in our email tags.
When we first started our greatest asset was De’s computer experience. I had down the basics – like typing, and getting around on the web – but he has written computer code for many a year. So when he retired in 2005 he started really helping with all the computer stuff. Like creating a web-site, adding pages and pages, teaching me all the bells and whistles of BookTrakker, etc., etc., etc.
We now have 4 storage units full of books and approximately 9,000 currently on line. Our only problem is getting more books listed. My sister was doing a superb job of listing books and we were really moving along but she cannot list anymore and we are falling far behind in that department.
Like most on-line booksellers we have to really watch sitting at the computer for long periods of time. It is amazing that suddenly the day is gone and we have been there all day long. So we have bought the Wii games. That way we can break for a game or two of bowling or tennis every few hours. Its not as much exercise as the ‘real’ thing but it really is a very good exercise program and lots of fun so the exercise does not seem like work.
When you get some time, come on over and cruise around our web-site. Look over on the left side bar or at our Mini Site Map: whiteunicornbooks.com
If you like what you see, lets us know. You might even encourage De to start writing again, and add even more pages.
DeWayne and Joan White, White Unicorn Books
323 South Montclair Avenue
Dallas, TX 75208
Check out the Independent Online Booksellers Association Website